The villains are the ones who don't care about their employees' welfare, set unreasonable goals, and are a pain in the ass to work with.
The good guys are the ones who are supportive, have an open door policy, and genuinely care about helping their employees grow.
As a leader, you'd obviously want to fall in the second category -- the good guys. But as Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn's CEO, said an in inverview with CNBC, this doesn't mean that you should be the go-to problem solver in your company.
Now, Weiner notes that leaders in small companies naturally gravitate towards being "firefighters", but he says this isn't the ideal situation. Instead, leaders should pass down problem solving skills to their managers, and get these managers to start doing things themselves.
According to Weiner, the wise thing to do is coach other leaders in your style (and get them to coach the employees under them). This helps you expand the reach of your leadership, free yourself up for more "big-time" tasks, and scale your organization.
Coach leaders in-person when you can.
Personally, I like to coach leaders in-person whenever possible. I had the opportunity to do this just recently, when my new manager called and told me that he couldn't attend to an emergency repair job because he had a couple of beers, and shouldn't be driving.
I went over to the customer's place instead, and my manager, Joe, tagged along to see how I'd approach the job. Now, my goal was to show Joe how to max out a ticket ethically, and that was exactly what I did.
When I first got to the client's house and inspected their garage, I quickly determined that there was a crack in the garage panel, and that the garage door opener wasn't working properly. Instead of just telling the customer about these problems, though, I explained the situation to him and let him find the crack himself. I also got him to try to lift the garage door, and he noticed right away that it was strangely heavy, and that something was amiss.
Since I guided the customer through the process, and let him see the problems for himself, he was more than happy for us to fix all these items (and bill him for multiple things). More importantly, Joe got to see me practice what I preach, and could now apply what he'd learnt to his subsequent jobs.
If you can't meet in person, video is your next best option.
While in-person coaching is effective, you obviously can't spend your entire work day coaching people -- that's just not realistic. The good news, though, is that there are other ways of coaching that are less time-intensive. One example? Using videos.
To do this, just record a video showing how to do a certain task, and explain your thought process while you're at it. If you record a video a week, in no time, you'll have built up a library of videos that your team can access and reference. Feel free to get creative here -- other than recording videos that explain how to do a certain task, you can also record other videos to explain:
- FAQs -- Frequently Asked Questions in context of a certain task/topic
- Advanced training videos -- videos where you share additional tips and insights on a task
- Feedback videos -- videos where you critique your employees' work and tell them how they can improve
Role-playing is good for learning on the spot.
Finally, role-playing is also a great way of coaching your team, and getting them to learn on the spot. Here at my company, we make it a point to do role-plays at least once a week.
You don't have to get too fancy here; personally, I just pull somebody to the front of the room so that we can go over different selling strategies. I also like to play a game in these sessions, where we see who can answer a question with another question. For example:
Me (pretending to be a client): "Tell me all about your company!"
Employee: "Absolutely, what exactly would you like to know about us?" Or, "Before I dive into that, have you had any past experience with our business?"
If you're wondering what's the rationale behind this, answering a question with another question helps you learn what your customers really want, and allows you to tailor your pitch accordingly. So we incorporate this into our role-play sessions, and at the end of each role-play, everyone gives each other feedback on how to sell more effectively.